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J Biomech Eng. 2008 Aug;130(4):041003. doi: 10.1115/1.2913332.

Gender differences in capitate kinematics are eliminated after accounting for variation in carpal size.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityRhode Island Hospital, 1 Hoppin Street, CORO West, Suite 404, Providence, RI 02903, USA.


Previous studies have found gender differences in carpal kinematics, and there are discrepancies in the literature on the location of the flexionextension and radio-ulnar deviation rotation axes of the wrist. It has been postulated that these differences are due to carpal bone size differences rather than gender and that they may be resolved by normalizing the kinematics by carpal size. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences in radio-capitate kinematics are a function of size or gender. We also sought to determine if a best-fit pivot point (PvP) describes the radio-capitate joint as a ball-and-socket articulation. By using an in vivo markerless bone registration technique applied to computed tomography scans of 26 male and 28 female wrists, we applied scaling derived from capitate length to radio-capitate kinematics, characterized by a best-fit PvP. We determined if radio-capitate kinematics behave as a ball-and-socket articulation by examining the error in the best-fit PvP. Scaling PvP location completely removed gender differences (P=0.3). This verifies that differences in radio-capitate kinematics are due to size and not gender. The radio-capitate joint did not behave as a perfect ball and socket because helical axes representing anatomical motions such as flexion-extension, radio-ulnar deviation, dart throwers, and antidart throwers, were located at distances up to 4.5 mm from the PvP. Although the best-fit PvP did not yield a single center of rotation, it was still consistently found within the proximal pole of the capitate, and rms errors of the best-fit PvP calculation were on the order of 2 mm. Therefore, the ball-and-socket model of the wrist joint center using the best-fit PvP is appropriate when considering gross motion of the hand with respect to the forearm such as in optical motion capture models. However, the ball-and-socket model of the wrist is an insufficient description of the complex motion of the capitate with respect to the radius. These findings may aid in the design of wrist external fixation and orthotics.

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